A couple of weeks ago, I blogged a link to this story. Here’s how it starts:

A Chicago priest who advertises on the internet as a “gay” masseur who does “man to man bodywork” says he has permission to host an openly homosexual group at his Catholic priory.

Openly homosexual Fr. Michael Guimon is a member of the Friars Servants of Mary — or Servites — and head of the priory at Our Lady of Sorrows National Basilica. He’s also the Servites’ formation director and senior care minister, with specialties of “spiritual companion and massage therapist.”

A Philadelphia reader of this blog was shocked: Father Guimon had recently come to her parish raising money for the Servites. She said he was very effeminate, and even her children wondered what the deal was with Father. How had a guy like this Chicago priest passed muster to come into the Archdiocese’s parishes to raise money? The reader, a lawyer, contacted the Archdiocese. She wrote to me:

I knew, from research, that prior to letting a priest from outside the diocese in to fundraise or perform a wedding, etc., the diocese requires a letter attesting to the subject priest’s good standing.

After a bit of back and forth, I finally reached the right person at the Philadelphia Archdiocese who told me that they had been provided the requisite letter. They were unaware of his background and relied on the letter.  They have assured me that they are contacting the Provincial of the Servites.

I urged the Archdiocese to ban the Servites and to implement their own vetting.  They have a number of seasoned former prosecutors in their employ.

I reminded them that the safety of our children is their responsibility and pointed out that this pro forma letter from the Servites would not relieve them of criminal or civil liability if something were to happen.

The reader shared with me the letter from the Servites assuring that all the friars “are persons of good moral character and reputation.” Look:

 

This assurance is obviously worthless. Father Guimon is openly gay, though no one has offered evidence that he has been unchaste, nor that he has ever been accused of sexual abuse of minors. Still, how careful could the Servites’ review have been if they missed the fact that Father Guimon was easily discoverable on the Internet moonlighting as a gay masseur? Perhaps the Servites believe that doing “man to man bodywork” is compatible with good character in a Catholic priest. Some Catholic laity may feel differently.

The system set up by the Dallas Charter only works if bishops, priests, friars, and others working with its implementation can be trusted. The reader, who is also a mom, sent me the letter because, in her words:

I want people to realize that they cannot rely on their parish or diocese to protect their children.

To repeat: no one has accused Father Guimon of sexually abusing minors. But Catholic parents like this reader do not want Mikey The Man-To-Man Body Worker around their children. They do not trust him. As the reader pointed out in her letter to me, the Archdiocese and her own pastor relied on the established protocols, but Father Guimon still slipped through — no doubt because his abuse record was clean.

Is the absence of sexual abuse evidence of virtue in a Catholic priest? If so, standards are in the basement.

It ought not be the case that a Catholic priest who moonlights as a gay masseur is certified by his religious order as being “of good moral character and reputation,” but maybe they have looser standards in the Servite order, which — no kidding — has made Mikey the Male Body Worker its current formation director.That means he’s in charge of forming the moral and spiritual character of men in the Servite order. Read more about his rich life at Lifesite News.

On its website, the Servites have posted a statement about the ongoing sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. It reads, in part:

We pray for victims of sexual abuse, who continue to struggle in many ways. We pray also to stay faithful to our call as ministers of God’s people, with whom all may feel safe. At this time in history, our Servite charism of compassion needs to be expressed, in word and action. Those who are hurt, broken, disillusioned and angry at the travesty of sexual misconduct in the church desperately need this compassionate understanding.

As the Servites’ letter to the Philly Archdiocese shows, words and phrases like safe, sexual misconduct and good moral character and reputation can become quite supple if you massage them enough.

UPDATE: The Philly reader writes:

There seems to be some confusion on the part of some readers of your recent article. I did note that Fr. G was effeminate at the time of his appearing at my parish and thought that he was an odd choice given the crisis. However, I did not contact Archdiocese until after reading your original article about him.

If I contacted the Archdiocese every time I encountered an effeminate priest, I would have to give up my day job.